Sunday 29th September
Well here we go again for another exciting/demanding/enjoyable/infuriating/magnificent (delete as appropriate) season with the returning and newly recruited Grasshoppers Under 12’s. As we have seen over the last couple of weeks we have a refreshed group of returning players, parents and coaches; as well as a few new faces to whom we warmly welcome to the club. We hope you’ll enjoy the atmosphere and quality of the team; its coaches and avid supporters. Of course with any long break we also have a number of absentees and hope that their recovery, other commitments and enforced choices are only short lived and they can receive a warm welcome back to club in the near future.
So with two weeks of continuum training (the clubs wording not mine!) we return to competitive match play. I think it would be fair to assume that following on from last season, we would find a group of players, coaches and supporters that would like to build in the advancements of team work, possession of the ball and of course winning mentality. I think already due to some added professional input in adapting the forwards coaching has already indicated some great rewards in the training sessions alone; but as always this can be hard to judge until an equally committed opposition are put forward to test the “metal” of the “hoppers”.
Moving on to today’s opponents Liverpool collegiate and Bolton RFC. Two teams that have provided a stern test of physicality and robustness of the team in historical battles for the team. The plan for that day was essentially have a Quad-angular fixture (with ourselves being able to field 2 mixed ability teams) with each side playing each other once. It became clear that the new format of the game, physicality and fatigue would mean only a maximum of two games would be played with the Greens and White of Preston facilitating one match against our opposition and a second game between the Greens and Whites. This agreed prior to kick off meant that the opposing team would play at least one of our sides and each other making it a less physically intensive 3 matches. Our final game with the Greens taking on the whites ended in a surprisingly committed performance with each side remaining competitive, pulsating (at times), but equally draining contest to end the day.
Hoppers (Greens) V Liverpool Collegiate:
First off it was clear that the visiting side had a large foreboding pack. Such obvious strengths in “height and width” meant that even before kick-off there was going to be some trouble in calming this threat and protecting the ball in rucks; mauls and scrums. Despite this the work of the forwards was showing some good promise in the lineouts and scrums; winning their own ball and sometimes against the head.
The backs were also showing some fluidity with the shadow of previous seasons first half lull seemingly put to rest. With the majority of scoring occurring in the first half we showed good determination to win and keep the ball. Tries from Connor, Max and Cian kept the scoreboard flowing over the half we looked assured of a good result.
Also of note through the first half and the 1st quarter of the second the handling errors were kept to a minimum and a trundling pack kept or opponents at an arm’s length; and despite a 7-7 second half we left the game worthy winners at 33-12.
Hoppers (Whites) V Bolton
A much more one sided game with a very “physical” (which could be substituted to brutal at times!) opposition; showed again the First half dirge appeared to be supressed for the week. It was noted that the forwards appeared to be relatively well organised and that on only a few occasions were there any concerns in rucking; mauling in keeping the ball. What was noticeable was the total dominance in the scrums which saw a low, direct, “leg pumping” drive on almost every occasion.
The backs looked well organised with some fluidity in passing and movement shown through the game to the advantage to the running backs of the game leaving an un-opposed score-line at 56-0 at the end. Defensively the backs appeared more organised with a good flat line seen in defensive positions and a steep line on our own ball that saw the runners scoring almost at will and the deft passing in the tackle and similarly in defensive mode (I could only count maybe 3-4 missed tackles in the game.
So against our visitors there were numerous notable mentions. Jaks almost impossible to tackle and determined defensive role gave him a six tries in his game. Lincoln clearly has been practicing his kicking with a certain Mr Wilkinson slotting home the extra points like coins in a penny arcade. This was further given support through some strong running and sublime defensive play from Charlie, Max, Archie and Louis. Cian continued to be the scrum half that puts fear to the opposition due not only his good running and passing, but being defensively minded when needed and applying the rule if you’ve got hold of something don’t let go until it has fallen over. Notable mentions also due to strong positional play to Luca, Deon, Michael and Connor; but to be fair to all the boys as a first competitive club match of the season some promising plays are coming to the fore and that the extra forwards focus has paid immediate dividends.
Once again the team was supported by an aspiring group of Mums, Das, Grannies, Granddads and even the odd dog or two. I personally have to thank my wonderful Chauffer and her flawless pursuit of finding the most appropriate parking spot for an injured one legged bandit. We firmly believe that we have the most progressively developed group of players in the county. Even when we look towards the festival there is competition for every place on the team. These fixtures, including the whites vs greens match at the end showed that commitment to improve and thrive on a winning mentality can be delivered in a cohesive, balanced and positive attitudinal approach. The boys were as courteous in winning as they are uniformly in losing and this is picked up not only but the coaches and our supporters but travelling teams and associate clubs.
Anyway that’s all for now; NEXT WEEK round two with the much improved Fylde side. Now before sign off lets hear a:
“Who are we?”